Life as a Neurodivergent Business Owner
Starting a business has always been a dream of mine. It wasn’t until 2020 that I finally took the leap and opened Shelley’s Gift Shop. These past two years have taught me more about myself than I ever expected.
One of the most impactful aspects of this journey has been growing in my neurodivergence. I have Autism, and being on the spectrum is part of my day-to-day life. It significantly shapes how I run my business.
What is Neurodivergence?
For those unfamiliar with the term, neurodivergence describes individuals like myself whose brains process information differently. It affects the way I, and so many others, communicate.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a neurodivergent business owner is feeling misunderstood. However, it is also a great strength. Because my brain works differently than others, I have learned to honor and share about my neurodivergence.
I hope to encourage others to keep striving toward their dreams by opening up about my journey.
‘I Feel Seen’: Fostering Genuine Community
I would be lying if I said choosing transparency was easy. Sharing my experience as a neurodivergent business owner can feel overwhelming. But I know such authenticity has the potential to build community.
There is an encouraging phrase I see from time to time in the comment section of Instagram: “I feel seen.” It is a prime example of people realizing they are not alone in their struggles.
Being open about having Autism is one of the best decisions I have made. As a neurodivergent business owner, it is my goal to show up as my authentic self every single day. Like others have encouraged me, I hope sharing my story helps others “feel seen” in their day-to-day lives.
I cherish the community we’ve built over the past two years. Some days I have to pinch myself. Working with other small business owners while helping people celebrate those in their lives brings me so much joy.
Wherever you find yourself reading this, know that you are not alone in your journey.
Shelley’s Gift Shop in Richmond, VA, offers a personally curated gift-giving experience. Our inventory is fully stocked with unique products from 40+ small businesses. All in-store items are available for purchase on our website. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to learn about new products and upcoming events.